La Grande’s Olivia Trotter (11) celebrates with Denise Comfort (4) and Brandi Blackman (center) after a point is scored in Game 2 of the Lady Tigers’ sweep of Scappoose Saturday in the first round of the 4A playoffs. LHS will face Madras in the quarterfinals. CASEY KELLAS - The Observer
The Lady Tigers are one step closer to a state title.
The La Grande High School volleyball team breezed by Scappoose Saturday in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, winning 25-8, 25-22 and 25-18.
Second-seeded La Grande will now face No. 6 Madras in the quarterfinals Friday at Lane Community College in Eugene.
“Everyone on the entire team played well,” coach Melinda Becker said Saturday.
“The home court advantage, they’re always really confident here.”
The Lady Tigers flexed their muscle early and often Saturday.
After the teams matched each other point for point to start the opening set, La Grande broke a 4-4 tie by going on a 4-0 run to go up 8-4 and eventually stretched it to 17-7
After the Indians cut it to 17-8 the Lady Tigers went on an 8-0 run with Madison Elliott at the service line to take a one-set advantage.
“We executed our game plan really well,” Becker said.
“We served tough and received the ball pretty well. We only had four missed serves (Saturday).”
Scappoose looked as if it was starting to find its rhythm early on in Game 2 as the Indians jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
But La Grande responded with four straight points to take a 5-3 lead of its own.
The game was back and forth from there with five ties, the last coming at 11-11.
That’s when LHS made its run, going on a 9-3 spurt to go up 20-14. Scappoose rallied late with a run to get within one point at 22-21, but a 3-1 finish gave the Lady Tigers a two-game lead.
Scappoose got off to another fast start in Game 3 only to see La Grande go on a mid-set run. After five early ties the Indians took a 10-7 lead before LHS went up 12-11.
The set saw two more ties at 12-12 and 13-13, but an 8-1 run by LHS gave the Lady Tigers the separation they needed and they went on to take the set and the match to advance to the round of eight for the second consecutive season.
Denise Comfort was 100 percent serving and 100 percent on serve-receive. She tallied 11 digs and six kills.
Kendall Kirkland was nine for 10 serving with two aces. The junior also had seven assists and six digs. Lauren Mills had nine kills, three digs and three aces while being perfect at the service line.
Elliott was 17 for 18 serving with 11 assists, five digs and three kills, while Olivia Trotter had 10 digs and five kills. Breanna Partney had three digs and two kills.
“Defensively Brandi (Blackman) and Hanna (Cashell) did a nice job for us. Madison and Kendall did a good job of mixing it up with their sets,” Becker said.
The Lady Tigers are now just three wins away from bringing home a state title.
Last season LHS fell to Sisters in the quarterfinals.
“I think having mental toughness will be key for us. The girls were there last year and they want to redeem themselves,” Becker said.
The other quarterfinal match-ups Friday are No. 1 Sisters against No. 5 Astoria, No. 1 Crook County and No. 5 Elmira, and No. 2 Banks against No. 3 Phoenix.